Diversity – let it not be a means of power struggle, but a means to learn from one another and respect each other.
A line this person intuited while on a silent retreat last month. Easier said than done, of course.
I was reading the end of a chapter in this book called Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor when that thought came about. It was on the subject of sangha or community. And it was concluded with these words:
“… to imagine a community of friendships in which diversity is celebrated rather than censured. In which smallness of scale is regarded as success rather than failure. In which power is shared by all rather than invested in a minority of experts. In which women and men (and all other genders/ non-genders, says this writer) are treated as genuine equals. In which questions are valued more than answers.”
Sounds utopian, doesn’t it?
Part of my ego play is that I always felt different from the norm; hence, there is a bit of ulterior motive in that intuited line. What ought to be or not is one’s personal choice. We all have our shadows and light to play with or choose from. It’s all up to each one of us to decide which we prefer. We are all entitled to our views and opinions. However, I would like to point out that we are also capable to withstand differences. We all have the ability for tolerance. It takes a lot of compassion and courage to view our different qualities with calm abidance and without limitations; more so to learn about our individual selves in the process.
In my own practice, this process of understanding and being in the space of calmly abiding to whatever arises from my own limited human capacity, I am much more aware of my vulnerabilities as a human being. And as such, I am not really that different from the next person. We are all conditioned beings with our own response mechanisms programmed from when we were very young or as adults, and perhaps even in utero or before that. However, I would like to believe that we are also powerful beings. As much as we are capable of destruction, we are also very capable of loving and healing ourselves and others by acknowledging the diversity within and around us. I found that through the practice of patience and kindness towards oneself, we can have a deeper understanding of how incredibly interconnected we all are. We are one big sangha, one big community.
May all of us be well. May all of us be at peace. May all of us feel connected. May all of us be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
Om, shanti shanti shanti.
(If anyone is interested, the book is a very practical and simple guide to understanding Buddhism for practitioners at the beginner level like myself. I now consider it as one of my go-to books on this path of awakening.)